ISO 10962 defines the structure and format for classification of financial instruments approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). There are many types of Financial Instruments used for saving, investing, trading, hedging and speculating. These instruments are generally organized in groups called "asset classifications." The most common asset classifications are generally described using terms like "Equities (Stocks)," "Debt (Bonds)," "Derivatives (Contracts)," "Currencies," and a few other generalized terms.
ISO 10962 provides a global standard for these classifications in the form of specific codes. Classification of financial instrument (CFI) Code is used to define and describe financial instruments as a uniform set of codes for all market participants. The code is issued by the members of ANNA, the Association of National Numbering Agencies. The group is currently working to simplify the structure so that it can be adopted more widely by non-governmental market participants.
The alphabetical characters in each position of this 6 character code reflect specific characteristics intrinsic to the financial instruments that are defined at the issue of the instrument, and which in most cases remain unchanged during the lifetime of the instrument (or by the market on which the instrument trades).
Where distinct entities transact it is seen as helpful to establish a common transaction language. The CFI code is meant to provide the most comprehensive information possible, while at the same time maintaining the code manageability, provides a standard for identification of type of instrument and their main high level characteristics, determined by the intrinsic characteristics of the financial instrument, which would be independent of the individual names or conventions of a given country or financial institution. This principle avoids confusion arising from different linguistic usage as well as redundancy, while allowing an objective comparison of the instruments across markets.
CFI codes also aim to simplify electronic communication between participants, improve understanding of the characteristics of financial instruments for the investors, and allow securities grouping in a consistent manner for reporting and categorization purposes.
The first character indicates the highest level of category to which the instrument belongs: Equities, Debt, Entitlements (Rights, Warrants), Options, Futures and Others (Miscellaneous).
The second character refers to specific groups within each category. For example, the subdivisions of the Equities category are: ordinary shares, preferred/preference shares, units, and others, while for the Debt instruments category, the subdivisions are: bonds, convertible bonds, money market instruments, and others.
The other four characters refer to each group's main features. For example, in the case of equities, whether they are voting or non-voting, restrictions, payment status, etc. In the case of Debt instruments, the type of interest (fixed or variable), guarantee, form of redemption, etc.
The letter X always means Not Applicable/Undefined.